As I was researching before starting this project I found it frustrating that I could find how to do just about anything to the bus but no one would give a list of the actual costs involved.
Now if I was going to be doing a real high end conversion I may not want to share how much I am into the project when it was finished. But I am trying to keep the costs in check. My goal is to use recycled items where possible and do as much work as I can by myself.
Before I go too far I need to tell the story about purchasing the bus. The bus was purchased through Public Surplus back at the beginning of November. The auction was about three weeks long and I was dying for most of that time waiting for the auction to end. I searched for a long time to find a low mileage, good condition bus. This auction was for a 1992 Bluebird from Tempe Union High School with 63,555 miles. There was a question made on the auction site asking if the mileage was accurate and the school district confirmed that it was so I was in it to win it!
In the end I won the auction with a bid of $3,150. After taxes and buyer premium I paid $3,758 and went out to Phoenix to get the bus. I picked the bus up around 4:00 p.m. in Phoenix and headed home leaving the 91 degrees of Arizona. The first leg of the drive I made it to St. George Utah and got 11.5 MPG. The next morning as I drove north towards home enjoying the cooler temperatures and dreaming of a radio that worked a little better I studied the worn writing just below the radio. I could make out an “S” and below that a 15. Through my incredible deductive reasoning and nothing else to do I came to the alarming conclusion that the speedometer may have been changed at some time. When I left Tempe I stopped by the transportation office and asked if they had the service records. I was planning on reviewing them in detail when I got home. Turns out McDonalds in Cedar City, Utah made a great place to delve into the maintenance records of an 18 year old bus. Well the records don’t lie; the speedometer was changed at just over a tick of 151,000 miles.
My first call was to the school district. They said they didn’t know about it, they would make it right, they were sorry… The short version of the following month is that they first said I bought the bus “as is” and they were not going to do anything. My good friend Dave from Jr. High is a lawyer (more pit-bull then bloodsucker) and was willing to work on getting this resolved and hopefully not having to go to court. Dave did a great job and when everything was said and done I ended up paying $368 plus my expenses to go get the bus in Phoenix.
So now that you have the background, here are the current costs. As a disclaimer these costs are based on finds I have made, you may be able to do better. I will keep this list updated as I go along.